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Volume 18, Number 3
May/June 2002

Building a “Storehouse of Memories” with Lesson Study


For more than 100 years, lesson study has been a key part of teacher education in Japan, says Manabu Sato, professor at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Education. Sato is the author of numerous books and articles on school reform and issues facing teachers. He spoke recently with the Harvard Education Letter. Here are some excerpts:

What role does lesson study play in Japanese education?

Education in Japan is still very traditional. Classes are large--nearly 40 students on average. There's a heavy emphasis on content. Teachers often don't have the supplies or equipment they need. The only formal professional development provided by the school boards is in the form of lectures.

In this context, Japanese lesson study is critical. Most lesson study groups are local and informal, that is to say, unofficial. Teachers and principals organize the groups. A survey of 3,000 teachers some years ago showed that more than half had attended these informal lesson study groups every week, usually on Saturdays when they are not paid to work.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.